Based on the pattern of your past, are you likely to over-eat and over-spend during the holidays? Then will you diet and budget beginning in January? Yes, me too. At this time, I have no word for the eaters and dieters; However, I want to offer something that may bring focus and clarity to the spending and budgeting process. Before pulling out credit cards, receipts, calculators or bank statements, let’s pause for a moment to examine possible factors that drive our thinking about money.
This often-omitted step is particularly important when planning with a spouse or other family member. Each person will be influenced by a unique set of values and motivations based on his or her personality as respects money. Even people who share a common economic background and education will frequently display very different money personalities. For example, in the case of identical twin boys raised in an impoverished community, one may become a careless, spendthrift, driven to make up for everything he never had as a child. Whereas the other may become a super frugal, hoarder seeking security in the stacking and saving money.
Without fully understanding why people respond differently, we are able to identify and describe five basic personality or mindset profiles that drive spending and saving decisions. Four lead to poor decisions: (1) the big spender (2) the saver (3) the shopper (4) the debtor. The fifth one, the investor, supports the building of wealth. Here’s a quick description of each one.
- The Big Spender
As the name implies, this person gets great ego fulfillment from acquiring nice things: luxury cars, large homes, designer clothing. Big spenders enjoy making a statement and will have the latest and greatest of everything. They are comfortable spending money and don’t fear debt.
- The Saver
On the opposite end of the spectrum are the savers. To conserve electricity, they will set the thermostat very low in the winter and high in the summer, keep lights turned off and close refrigerator door quickly. They enjoy having no car payment and will carefully assess the interest and fees charged by the banks. Savers pay little attention to the latest trends. They are naturally conservative and operate with a fear of losing money.
- The Shopper
The shopper gains emotional satisfaction from spending money. They often purchase unnecessary items and enjoy finding bargains to maximize the number of things acquired. Shoppers frequently forget to set spending limits.
- The Debtor
Unlike the big spender or the shopper, debtors don’t spend to make a statement, nor do they shop to satisfy an emotional need. There seems to be little rhyme or reason to their spending as they rarely keep tabs on when and where they spend, nor do they pay much attention to what’s available to spend. Consequently, debtors will regularly spend until the bank stops them.
Now, contrast the habits of these four poor mindset types with the fifth one – the wealth mindset.
- The Investor
Investors are consciously aware of money. They understand the economics of putting money to work for them, and they set goals to build wealth through passive income. They anticipate growing passive or residual income adequate to cover all living expenses. Their budgeting and spending are characterized by careful decision-making and their investments reflect the need to take a certain amount of risk in pursuit of their goals.
The question of the day: how is the big spender, saver, shopper or debtor mindset transformed to embrace the personality of an investor? It’s basically an emotional, mind game that we can all play and win.
The big spender gains confidence and ego-fulfillment when surrounded with nice things. The correction is to turn the focus away from those shiny things—the golden eggs—and going after the goose! When a big spender who focuses on acquiring assets, residual income, quality investments and businesses builds much more confidence and drives that ego to a good place. Big spenders can become fabulous investors.
The saver, who is naturally averse to overspending, is already ahead of the game. These overly careful money handlers just need to allow their unhealthy fear of losing what they already have to be gobbled up by a healthy fear of losing the opportunity to gain more. Then savers become courageous and competent investors. Now they can pull their money out from its hiding place under the mattress and put it to work earning profits.
The shopper can learn to derive emotional satisfaction from acquiring assets rather than acquiring things. Turning their focus away from costume jewelry and fashion clothing and toward fine art, diamonds, gold, precious metals or real estate as part of a strategic investment strategy will provide even greater emotional comfort for the shopper.
Finally, the debtor just needs to recognize the value of a plan, a roadmap and goals surrounding the use of money. This mental discipline will bring clarity, and help debtors find meaning and satisfaction in taking control of their spending.
Transforming the big spender, saver, shopper or debtor mindset to the investor mindset begins with self-awareness, grows through education and is actualized in community with others who are on the same journey. Interacting with the investment mindset moves everyone’s perspective away from short term, immediate gratification to long term ultimate freedom. Watching others put their money to work provides the motivation and the tools to follow suit. When we create an inner circle of people who have passive, residual income we will naturally (and easily) find opportunities that works for us, personally. As the people we know begin to set themselves free to retire early and live their dream lives, we begin to believe it’s possible for us.
So, wherever you are this holiday season, determine to move toward CONFIDENCE, COURAGE, COMFORT and CLARITY as we embrace the mindset and personality of the investor.